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Olympus/Polaroid Team Up

Polaroid and Olympus yesterday introduced the C-211 Zoom, a hybrid digital camera with the ability to make instant Polaroid prints.

The Camedia, slated for launch in October with a $799 suggested retail price, was co-developed by both companies, but Olympus will take the lead and market the camera under its brand name in the United States. Polaroid may bring the camera out under its own name in some vertical markets, said Gary DiCamillo, Polaroid’s CEO.

Olympus sees the C-211 as appealing primarily to those in the insurance, real estate and law enforcement business, but it will be sold through the company’s regular consumer channels. Fuji has a similar camera in the Japanese market, but the C-211 is the first of its kind in the North American market, the companies said.

The camera essentially is an Olympus 2.1-megapixel digital camera mated to a Polaroid instant camera. It features a 3x optical zoom, flash, an 8MB SmartMedia card, 2-inch LCD, and will print a digital image in about 15 seconds with the photo being fully developed in less than two minutes using Polaroid type 500 film. The camera does not include an optical viewfinder.

DiCamillo said the C-211 was jointly conceived by the two firms (Polaroid patented the idea in 1980) but Polaroid does not have an exclusive arrangement with Olympus.

“We are looking at alliances with other [digital camera] companies and those that make web enabled devices,” DiCamillo said. He refused to name any company Polaroid is considering.

Olympus and Polaroid will continue the C-211 family line, said John Knaur, Olympus’ product manger for the C-211.

Company executives hinted that miniaturizing the C-211 is one area they will work on for the next generation model. In its current form the camera weighs just over 1 pound, without battery and film pack, and is 7-inches tall by 5-inches wide.